MD Anderson patient endowment marks Silver Anniversary

Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support (VEPS) celebrates successes, looks to the future

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Volunteer Endowment for Patient Support (VEPS), which funds patient-focused programs, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

On Tuesday, March 29, VEPS will host its annual fundraising luncheon to benefit the endowment launched by the late George Vietor, a longtime volunteer and patient advocate. The invitation-only event will take place at the River Oaks Country Club, from 11:30 a.m. to 1p.m.

Since it began, VEPS has supported thousands of MD Anderson patients and caregivers by funding a wide range of programs and amenities that provide comfort, care and education to patients during their cancer journey. As of this year, the endowment has raised $3.8 million, and distributed more than $2.7 million.

“The endowment has funded meaningful programs and amenities not traditionally supported by institutional funds. It helps provide extras that bring comfort, care and support to patients and programs that reflect the true mission of VEPS,” said Susan P. French, associate vice president of Volunteer Services and Merchandising at MD Anderson.

Through the years, grants distributed by VEPS have funded blanket warmers in clinics, and transportation, meals and lodging for eligible patients distributed by Social Work, among many other patient-focused programs. 

Other programs that have benefited from the endowment include the:

  • CARE program that  provides support groups, game night and special activities for lymphoma and myeloma inpatients
  • TEAM Me exercise and mobility program for pediatric, adolescent and young adult patients
  • Annual “A Time to Remember” adult memorial service
  • myCancerConnection Caregiver Week program that features a variety of activities
  • Shared Medical Appointment Readiness Teaching (SMART) program for chemotherapy training
  • Annual holiday luncheon for patients and caregivers

“Most recently, VEPS has contributed $80,000 to fund patient support and service recovery during MD Anderson’s transition to the new electronic health record. Funds are designated for snacks and refreshments, valet parking stickers and meal vouchers,” said French.

Carrying the torch

VEPS fundraising efforts started out as a collaborative grassroots movement by MD Anderson’s Volunteer Services, dedicated trained volunteers and community partners. Beginning with cookbook sales, fashion shows and art auctions, the annual VEPS luncheon steadily has grown in attendance and now is the primary fundraiser. This year, more than 350 guests are expected to attend the 25th anniversary fundraiser luncheon.

“Volunteering  makes a difference in others’ lives and also positively affects your own life,” said VEPS Disbursement Committee Chair Rick Reitz, who, with his wife Pam, has volunteered more than 20 years. “It’s rewarding to hear from patients and caregivers who are so thankful for the support.”

2016 VEPS Committee Chairs: Louise Parsley (1999); Ann and George McDaniel (2009); Jeannie and Greg Frazier (2001); Jane and Jimmy McCarroll (2002); Anne and Tio Suman (2004); Peppi and Fred Lausen (2005);  Terri and Pepe Schwartz (2006); Carrie and Tom Wood (2005); Ellie and Don Knauss (2007); Soraya and Scott McClelland (2007);  Mary Van and David Grindle (2008); Susan and David Miclette (2009); Betty and John Clarke (2010); Nancy Loeffler (2011); Nancy Moncrief (2011); Judy and Charles Tate (2011); Muffin and Jim Clark (2012); Cinda and Bill Matthews (2012); Dorothy and Malcolm Paterson (2013); Kathy and Jeff Love (2014); Michael Landrum (2015); Marguerite Schutza (2015); and Pam and Rick Reitz.

In November, MD Anderson reaches another milestone when it celebrates its 75th anniversary.